NY Times cries for Beit Hanoun, but not for Sderot
For a perfect illustration of the selective, pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel journalism as practiced by the New York Times, one only has to compare the edition of Aug. 20 with the one of Aug. 1.
On Aug. 20, the Times splashes an article by Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner across the entire top of its foreign news section, with a headline reading: "New U.N. Report Points to Toll Israeli Restrictions Take on Gaza Livelihoods."
The report was issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian Territory. Yes, this is an official UN agency with the sole mission of churning out pro-Palestinian propaganda.
Bronner, however, uncritically disseminates its statistical finding in full detail. Because of Israeli incursions and other security measures, the report alleges, 12 percent of Gaza's population -- 178,000 people out of 1.5 million -- have lost livelihoods or have otherwise been severely affected. The Israeli restrictions cover 17 percent of Gaza's land mass and 35 percent of its agricultural land.
Well, you get the picture this UN agency, with Bronner's eager assistance, seeks to paint: Another example of Israel inflicting untold pain on Palestinians. Hamas's rocket and mortar attacks against Israel get only incidental mention. In fact, Bronner himself refers only to some "anti-Israeli militants who operate from the border area." He also belatedly gets around -- in the 11th paragraph of a 16-paragraph article -- to a rejoinder by an Israeli spokkeswoman who mentions Hamas's continued cross-border aggression.
But this doesn't faze Bronner in the slightest. He sums up his piece by asserting that "advocates of co-existence" (and he's naturally one of those) can only weep for peace-seeking Palestinians who are "most affected by Israeli security measures" -- not by anything Hamas does, mind you.
To drive home his anti-Israel agenda, Bronner is not just content with regurgtitating a transparent piece of anti-Israel UN propaganda. He gins up the UN study by traveling to Beit Hanoun, a Gaza farming community near the border with Israel, where he tops his story with the sad experiences of Kamal Sweleim and his family. In the news business, this is known as putting a face on a statistical report.
Sweleim's family, Bronner tells Times readers, owned a farm in Beit Hanoun for six decades -- a mixture of citrus orchards and plump cows. But 10 years ago, with the infada, Israeli tanks "started repeatedly tearing through the family's fields, chasing "militants." Last year, during the "Israeli war in Gaza" (note he doesn't call it Israel's war against Hamas rocket barrages), the family was ordered to move out and their "trees and wells were bulldozed." They now reside in a tiny house, living off cousins and international welfare.
In sum, Bronner isn't just content to report so-called UN findings, he brings them to life with a tearful recitation of the plight of a Palestinian family.
Now, let's rewind the tape to the Aug. 1 edition of the Times to check how Bronner, as Jerusalem bureau chief, handled another development along the Gaza border, this time on the Israeli side.
On July 31, an upgraded Qassam rocket from Gaza scored a direct hit on a children's hydrotherapy rehabilitation center in the heart of Sderot's Sapir College. The center provides therapy for special-need children, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, incurred after years of rocket attacks.
During weekdays, the center is packed with hundreds of chiildren, parents and therapists. But because the rocket landed on Shabbat, the center fortunately was unoccupied when the rocket smashed into it. On any weekday, hundreds could have been killed. Parents who rushed to the center after the attack looked on in horror, imagining what could have happened to their loved ones.
So how did the New York Times cover this event? It did not. The Times didn't publish a single sentence about it in its Aug. 1 or even Aug. 2 edition. Bronner went AWOL. So did his second-banana in the Jerusalem bureau, Isabel Kershner.
While Bronner eagerly seeks ways to weep for Gazans -- and blame Israel rather than Hamas for their plight -- no such sympathy is evident when Israelis are in the cross-hairs of continuing attacks from Gaza.
For Beit Hanoun, Bronner trots out statistical detail after statistical detail to blacken Israel. But for Sderot and other Israeli communities within rocket range of Hamas missiles, Bronner demonstrates no such statistical appetite. Yet, such statistics are readily available. Here are just a few::
--108 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza at Israel in the first six months of 2010.
--7,000 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israel since Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
--1 -- only one -- Israeli is left in Gaza -- IDF soldier Gilad Shalit kidnapped by Hamas and kept as a hostage, without Red Cross vistations, in violation of international law.
--1,000-plus Israelis have been injured and more than 20 killed by rocket and mortar fire since 2001, including one fatality earlier this year.
Since Bronner is so enamored of statistics when he reports from Gaza, why no similar interest in statistical reports about all the pain, suffering, wounds and deaths inflicted on Israelis in cross-border rocket fire form Gaza?
Two editions of the New York Times -- Aug. 20 and Aug. 1. The first weeps for Beit Hanoun; the other sheds no tears for Sderot.
At the New York Times, the other half of the news is not fit to print.